Ticketmaster notifies brokers of subpoenas

April 3, 2009 5:50:25 PM PDT
Ticketmaster Entertainment Inc. has informed hundreds of ticket brokers it will hand over details of their dealings on its ticket-resale subsidiary TicketsNow, as it also copes with a separate antitrust probe into its proposed merger with concert promoter Live Nation Inc. Ticketmaster told brokers in an e-mail Friday that the company has received "a number of subpoenas and demands for sworn information" from a list of agencies, including the Justice Department, the Federal Trade Commission and the Canadian Competition Bureau.

"We are taking steps to protect the confidentiality of these materials once produced but feel we are required to provide these materials in response to lawful demands," Ticketmaster said in the e-mail, adding it would respond by next Friday.

Specifically, Ticketmaster said it is required to send information regarding the resale of tickets to Bruce Springsteen concerts on May 21 and 23, the names and contact information of all ticket brokers that TicketsNow does business with, and copies of the broker contracts with the site.

Lawmakers, fans, and Springsteen himself expressed outrage over ticket handling for the May shows in New Jersey, saying Ticketmaster redirected customers from its main site to TicketsNow, where higher-priced tickets were on sale, despite cheaper face-value ones being available.

Ticketmaster said the problem was due to a technical glitch and has refunded the price difference to fans who complained.

A Ticketmaster spokesman declined to comment Friday.

Live Nation said its lawyers were told by Justice officials that the ticket-reselling inquiries were not part of the antitrust probe of the merger.

Both companies said on March 20 they are cooperating with a second request by the department for merger-related information, an indication the department is scrutinizing the deal closer than most.

West Hollywood-based Ticketmaster is the world's largest seller of tickets to concerts and shows, and Beverly Hills-based Live Nation is the largest U.S. operator of concert venues, with more than 140. The companies have been expecting to complete their all-stock merger in the second half of the year.

Artists have expressed concern that the combination would lead to a near-monopoly on ticket sales to large-scale concerts.

Live Nation last year ended a long-term contract to sell its concert tickets through Ticketmaster, and it launched its own ticketing service for its venues in January.

That threatened to siphon off at least 15 percent of Ticketmaster's revenue and set the two companies up for a head-to-head fight for ticketing contracts. But in February, they announced they had agreed to lay down arms and join forces.

Ticketmaster shares rose 5 cents, or 1.2 percent, to close at $4.14 Friday, while Live Nation shares rose 4 cents, or 1.3 percent, to $3.05.

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